Want to keep reading?

You've reached the end of your complimentary access. Subscribe for as little as $4/month.

Aready a Subscriber ? Sign In

Cousins Jane and Louise turn a boring morning watching their brothers play soccer into a fun, meaningful adventure

I leaned against the window, the cold glass sending a shiver through my body. I didn’t want to go to the game. I’m just going to be cold and bored, I thought.

“C’mon, Louise. It can’t be that bad,” my brother said, nudging me. He was dressed head to toe in uniform. His cleats were obnoxiously tapping the bottom of the car in excitement. He always got like this before one of his soccer games. “I mean, you’ll get to watch me win, right?” he said. I continued staring out the window and didn’t say anything.

“Hey, look at that!” my mom said from the passenger seat. “The Welches are going to be there too! Harold’s got a soccer game!”

As soon as I heard “Welches,” I bolted upright in my seat. “The Welches?” I cried. The Welches were our cousins. There were four kids—Jane, Robert, Harold, and Betsy. And the oldest, Jane, was my age. We had been best friends since we were born. Even though we saw each other often, I still looked forward to every time we met.

“Yup,” my mom said. “Every single one of them.” My smile could be seen for miles.

When we reached the soccer fields, the thought of the cold, wet ground once again sent a chill through my spine. I was more of a summer day than fall morning kind of person. But when I saw Jane, all those feelings were blown away by the late autumn breeze.

I opened the door and ran down the stairs to the fields, only caring about seeing my cousin.

“Jane?” I cried when she was within earshot.

“Hey, Louise!” she said. Her short, curly brown hair bounced behind her as she ran toward me.

“Let’s go play!” Jane said, and we ran off as our brothers’ soccer games began. We ran around, exploring the nearby playgrounds and updating each other on the latest fourth-grade gossip.

We had done something to help, no matter how big or small that thing was, and we were proud.

While we were exploring the edge of the forest near the soccer fields, we saw a steep little path that led down into the woods. Curiosity got the better of us, and we ran back to where our parents were sitting in their lawn chairs, intently watching the game. When we asked them if we could go explore, they absentmindedly answered yes, and Jane and I ran off happily.

As we trekked through the forest, spying on the families who lived behind the fences and telling jokes that didn’t make sense, I started noticing something. The forest and stream were littered with all sorts of trash—beer cans, water bottles, tissues, plastic bags, and more. Disgusted, we ran back to our parents again to ask for a bag.

A Better World

“Mama, can we have a bag?” I asked. This time she looked up from the game, surprised.

“What do you need a bag for?” “Picking up trash,” Jane chimed in.

“Yeah! There’s a ton of trash in the woods. So, can we have a bag?” I asked. Jane and I put on our sweetest faces, and my mom laughed.

“Okay, but don’t touch any glass or anything dangerous like that,” she said as she pulled an old Walmart bag out of her purse.

“Why do moms always have everything?” I said, my voice only slightly diminished by the wind as we ran back to the woods.

“I don’t know! When I’m a mom I won’t have time for things like that! I’ll be too busy having fun!” Jane yelled.

“Yeah! Me too!” I said as we came to the trail.

We hiked through the woods, our eyes wide open, looking for any trash we could pick up. We hopped over the stream several times, throwing away whatever didn’t belong there. We picked up so much trash—we even had to go back for more bags!

By the time the game was over, Jane and I were filthy but happy. We had done something to help, no matter how big or small that thing was, and we were proud. My brother was both right and wrong—I didn’t watch him win, but I definitely had fun.